Thread Theory | Camas Blouse

I’m sure you are all familiar with Thread Theory by now. Even though they have a clear menswear focus, they decided to throw us ladies a bone and put out a women’s blouse pattern! Since my name is in the tester pool, Morgan and Matt asked for some willing participants to sew up the Camas Blouse (from the finished pattern, I did not test it prior to release) and post about it. My hand shot up pretty quickly, as this is undoubtedly a pattern I would have purchased anyway. You all know I love a good button-up, and I’ve always had a weakness for the “V-necked with little gathers” variety.

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This blouse is designed for knit fabrics, and I used a rayon jersey I picked up from fabric.com on their black Friday sale (pretty sure it sold out). I had this blouse in mind when I ordered it, so I was super pleased that it was the exact weight and drape that I wanted. That doesn’t usually happen! Then I searched my scraps for a coordinating contrast fabric, and came up with leftovers from a recently made (though not yet blogged…) dress. It’s actually not a perfect match, but the floral has so many shades of blue that it just kinda goes together. The blouse is loose fitting, so it wasn’t a problem to mix a woven fabric in for the yoke pieces.

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I picked a size 8 based on my bust measurement, then graded out at the waist and hip by 1/4″ (1″ all around). I was in between the 8 and 10 for my waist and hip, so I wanted to make sure it didn’t end up too clingy. The sizing was perfect, and I’m very pleased with the fit!

Aside from size adjustments, I made a few tweaks to the pattern.

  • Added 1″ in length to the hem—I’m high waisted, but also tall-ish, so I just tacked on length instead of splitting it at the “shorten/lengthen” line.
  • In the back—I took 1″ off the bottom of the yoke, and added the inch to the top of the back piece. Visually, I prefer a narrow yoke, and since I was using a woven for the yoke, I wanted to make sure I didn’t end up with it being too tight across the back.
  • Neckline—I raised the neckline by 1″. I have a high bust and quite often run into the problem of unintentionally plunging necklines.

Altering the neckline was a little tricky to do since I had to make sure the neckband and blouse front would match around the V-neck curve. Since I was only raising it by an inch I didn’t alter the yoke piece any, just changed the angle from the yoke seam and down. If I were to raise it any further, I’d have to start the adjustment higher.

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Construction was pretty much a breeze, until I got to the button placket, which was very tedious. I suppose it was the wide (5/8″) SA’s that made things tricky. Trying to sew opposing curves between the button placket and blouse front with a wide SA is just a frustrating (and often inaccurate) experience. I did make sure to stay stitch and clip the most extreme curves, but next time around I’ll narrow the SA to begin with. Because the finished placket is so narrow, you have to aggressively trim down and grade the SA’s anyways.

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I do like how the inner placket isn’t turned under, but simply left as is, more like a facing. Then, instead of top stitching the placket, I stitched in the ditch at the placket seam line, catching the facing. When I finished the inner edge of the placket on my serger (before stitching it down), i trimmed off about 1/4″ to keep the facing nice and narrow.

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Lastly, this pattern suggests interfacing the yoke pieces as well as both outer and inner placket. I skipped interfacing the yoke pieces since I was using a woven, and I skipped interfacing the inner placket to keep the placket from becoming too stiff. So, all I bothered to fuse was the outer button placket piece. This worked out just fine for my fabric, but you’ll want to evaluate how much interfacing to use based on your own fabric choices.

I did make functioning buttonholes, even though they are totally unnecessary, as the blouse slips easily over my head. Fortunately my otherwise unremarkable sewing machine does not put up a fuss when it’s time to make buttonholes, even in knit fabrics!

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Overall, I am truly, honestly in love with this pattern. It was fun to construct a knit blouse that ends up both comfortable and a little more dressed up than your average tee. I know this will quickly become a staple in my wardrobe!

lisa g.

*This pattern was a freebie in exchange for a blog post*

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mccalls 6833 | pattern review

our little excursion to NYC has come and gone already… what a whirlwind! capped by a long drive home, stuck in friday must get out of the city!!! east coast traffic. i had planned to give a mid-construction update on mccalls 6833, but the end of the school year busyness totally got in the way. anyways, here’s the deets!

(p.s. navy is really hard to photograph)

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after my initial muslin i took all the lady curves out of the bodice so it better resembled a rectangle, and ended up with a decent fit. my waist measurement puts me in a size 14-16 (whut??) while my bust is more like an 8. so i traced off a 10 bodice, but added 4″ all around to the waist. this pattern doesn’t seem to have as much ease as i’m used to in big 4 (could it be that they’ve heard our complaints?) so i paid close attention to the finished garment measurements. after a second muslin, i ended up going back and tracing off the upper bodice in a size 8 and doing another SBA, plus a forward shoulder adjustment and some lower armhole fiddling. i was reasonably confident that would work out so i was off to cut my fabric.

i did have to scrap some of my initial plans of making the bustier underneath the fuller coverage bodice. that was me high on ALL THE IDEAS!!! and low on the thinking it through part. no worries, i’m perfectly happy with what i ended up with. the only thing i changed from the pattern was to create a V shape in the back. the pattern has the back piece coming all the way up to the base of the neck, and that was feeling a little too covered up. plus, i’m all about the lower back necklines these days.

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i decided that even though this is a limited use dress, i would take the time to do some hand stitching. on the bodice, i hand-basted my underlining, catch stitched the bodice SA’s, etc. it was time well spent as i could work on the dress while thinking through how i wanted to construct certain things. i did leave my side and shoulder SA’s free in case i needed to make any adjustments once i was farther along. i ended up bringing up the shoulders a bit and taking in the waist by an inch, so thank goodness for that! nothing is worse than needing to rip out your hand stitching.

for the skirt, i cut the size 12 and adjusted the pleats to fit the bodice. i changed up the construction order by sewing the skirt front and back to the bodice separately so i could easier adjust the side seam. it’s pretty difficult to predict exactly how the bodice will sit before the weight of the skirt is there to pull it down.

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i fully lined the dress with rayon bemberg. that stuff is such a pain in the ass to cut and nearly impossible to keep on grain! it does tear from selvedge to selvedge, so i did that to true up the edges and then i taped it down to my table to give me the best chance of getting a good cut. unfortunately… i failed to triple check that my selvedges were completely lined up and had a little mishap with one of the skirt lining pieces. at that point there was no point in getting upset over it, so in a very zen fashion (a-typical of me, don’t be fooled) i cut a strip of lining, patched it on, and called it a day. the skirt lining now has a huge “scar” running down the back, but eh… that’s the charm of handmade, right?

i hand stitched the hem in place (did i mention i lengthened the skirt by 1″? cuz i did), and hemmed the lining with horsehair braid—a technique gertie had just posted about. i should mention that the lining is actually a separate pattern piece. it’s cut as a circle skirt, so if you aren’t keen on the pleats, you could use the lining for a different look. anyways, the pattern has you sew a wide length of gathered tulle part way up the lining to give the dress some oomph. i was short on time at this point and didn’t feel like messing with tulle, which is why i opted for the horsehair. i’m just so/so on the result. the horsehair is really too stiff for the bemberg and it flops awkwardly. if i have occasion to pull this dress out again, i may re-do this per the pattern directions.

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overall, i think this pattern is pretty great! there are a whole range of options for mixing and matching. however, getting a good fit for a small-busted gal like myself was more challenging that i had anticipated. the dart intake at the bust is in the ballpark of 2 1/2″, whereas i need closer to 1 1/2″. you almost have to drape it on yourself to figure out the shape for that piece… however that’s pretty hard to do on your body! i’ve since gone back and fiddled with the bust dart and upper bodice length because i’ve started working on the strap-y version with a gathered skirt for heather b’s #sewsundress sew-a-long! more on that later, since i have a few dresses planned…

as you can see above, i made a last minute clutch following a tutorial by skirt as top… who happened to post about it the day before the event i needed it for. it was super easy, and even though i’ve never made a zippered bag before, it only took about 45 minutes. win!

last thing, this pattern is rated EASY on the front. i whole-heartedly disagree. getting the front bodice pieces sewn accurately so everything lines up as it should was definitely challenging, and i can only imagine a newbie trying to work that out! and fitting… unless you tend to fit straight out of the envelope, it’s not for the faint of heart (or short on time).

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i have to say, it was fun to set aside the t-shirts and basics sewing to make this dress. and it actually does fill a hole in my wardrobe, since i didn’t have a special occasion dress prior to this! now let’s just hope a few more special occasions come up so i can wear it again. 😉

—lisa g.

sleeveless archer

a while back i ordered some tencel chambray (this one, while it’s still available… it’s gorgeous stuff). my intent was to use it for a modified CP laurel or the salme buttonless shirtdress, but i felt it was borderline too thin to go sans lining, and i don’t own a slip. it’s on my list of things to make though! since my initial plan wasn’t working out, i decided to make the sleeveless archer i’ve been wanting. must bend to the will of the fabric gods, amiright?

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this top looks less frumpy tucked in (or partially tucked… let’s be real) but i left it out for the sake of photos

i searched teh interwebs for everyone’s tips on how to make the archer sleeveless. i followed jen’s advice and wedged out part of the back shirt piece and moved the shoulder seam in (1-1.5″). i also moved the under arm up and in, by about 1/2″ both directions. i was worried about potentially gape-y armholes, and that seemed to do the trick. i typically have to shorten the depth of armholes, so raising it may just be something i need to do. better to cut away excess than wish you had more!

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i also decided to make it a popover and sew a placket down the front. i debated the length of the placket for a long time, and in the end i wish it were an inch or two longer. it bugs me that the placket and pockets end at about the same place; didn’t even consider that! i also altered the pocket shape to be smaller, left off the collar, and subbed gathers for the back pleat.

my little photo-bomber. at least he's wearing a mommy-made tee ;-)

my little photo-bomber. at least he’s wearing a mommy-made tee 😉

i’m pretty in love with this shirt! i have another sleeveless archer planned, which i’ll hopefully get to soon. i scored a gorgeous polka dot fabric recently and it’s high time i honored this great pattern with some silk, doncha think?

lisa g.

burda spring cigarette pants

i know from experience that changing a trouser pant leg to a skinny or cigarette pant leg is rather challenging. if i knew something about pattern drafting (which i don’t) i suppose it would be cakewalk, but the tweaking and re-sewing and trying on is tiring and very not fun! so even though i have a good handle on the fit of my beloved sewaholic thurlows, i decided to try a new pant pattern. enter the burda “spring cigarette pants” a.k.a. 02/2014 #129B.

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the leg shape was exactly what i wanted: clean, slim, and modern. the first thing i did was adjust the rise. these are drafted to hit slightly below the waist. that’s just not a good look for me, so i trimmed 1″ off the back rise and 2″ off the front rise. i usually have to add extra to the back crotch length (the dreaded “big butt adjustment” or worse, “full butt adjustment”), so this was kind of a shortcut. i moved the welt pocket placement and back dart point down by 1″ and re-drew my dart legs.

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my measurements fall in between the 40 and 42, so i played it safe and went with the 42. i didn’t want skin tight pants, however these ended up being slightly too big in the waist. so really that is the biggest difference between the thurlow draft and the burda draft. sewaholic drafts for a pear shape while burda is your standard doesn’t-take-any-specific-body-type into consideration draft. that isn’t a knock against burda, just something to keep in mind when choosing a size.

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other than waistline placement, the only other adjustment i made was to scoop out the back crotch a tad. when i tried them on it felt like i just couldn’t pull them on all the way without giving myself a wedgie. that’s when the scoop thing clicked for me. chances are, your bum hangs lower than er… your lady bits. so by dropping the curve in the bum area, you make space for where your bum actually sits. i’m pretty sure this explains some of the crotch flap issues i’ve had with my jalie pants perviously, and lesser so with my thurlows. the pants were stopping at my bum, but i still needed a good half inch before they made it to my front side. so much crotch talk… sorry!

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i could stand to scoop out the back a tad more (i didn’t want to take out too much because it can affect the width through the thigh), and bring the waist in by a size. overall i am pleased with the drafting. many have praised burda’s pants, and i would definitely recommend this pattern. i particularly love how they shorten the back inseam from crotch to knee, which helps to reduce some of the under bum wrinkles many people complain about when making pants.

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i finished the inside waistband with bias tape to reduce bulk and eliminate the need for perfect top stitching. it just so happens that Morgan at Crab&Bee posted a tutorial on this very finish as i was finishing these pants. i differed slightly in finishing the waistband ends by using this tutorial by thread theory (scroll down a ways to get to that part). it’s the same principal used in finishing the ends of the collar stand in grainline studio’s archer.

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i figured out how to completely encase the welts inside the pocket bags… i fully intend to write up a tutorial!

final verdict:

  • if you’re more of a pear shape, grade down a size in the waist
  • if you tend to have front crotch flap issues, scoop out the back crotch as a starting point. don’t know how much? hold a ruler, or anything skinny and flat between your legs right up to your bum and parallel to the floor and measure the gap. that should give you a good idea of how much to lower the curve. (note: if you don’t have space there and have a pattern that is giving you excess in the front crotch, then that is mostly likely a different issue.)
  • burda instructions, as always, are brief. find other directions if you need hand holding.
  • the waistband is straight, which is probably okay for the higher rise, but i subbed in the thurlow waistband.
  • i did not alter the pant length and they’re perfect for my leggy 5′ 8″ frame

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so will i use this pattern again? partially. i see bright pink pants as a fun thing to have in my wardrobe, so i’m less concerned about fit issues than pants in a basic neutral color that would theoretically get a lot more use. i could stand to lower the rise allover another 1/2″ to closer match the rise on the thurlow, which is perfect on me. i suspect i’ll return to my thurlow and use the leg shape of the burda to get the slim fit i love. in fact, if you want skinny thurlows, it’s worth the price of the burda to not have to figure out the skinny part! (note that the thurlow is drafted for a non-stretch woven, but i’ve determined that going down a size works great for a stretch fabric. skinny pants should always be made in stretch fabric) i’ll finish up by saying that any of my remaining fit tweaks are more about how they feel than about how they look. i think they look great, so i’ll continue to wear them!

a few more gratuitous detail shots…

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i need to add an inside bar closure, i just hate sewing those things on

i need to add an inside bar closure, i just hate sewing those things on

forgot to mention anywhere… my fabric is a cotton/lycra sateen, hence why every wrinkle shows! also these pics were taken post-washing and i suck at ironing. oh, and my top is a tiny pocket tank that i haven’t blogged yet. i think i’ve finally perfected the fit though!

one last thing… i realized that my sewing of these coincides with a current pattern review contest. consider these entered!

—lisa g.

fancy dress time

so here is an exciting project i have to get working on very soon! my husband and i have been invited to a charity dinner in NYC (on his company’s dime) that takes place in just a few weeks. it’s a “black tie optional” type deal at the Grand Hyatt. and ya’ll know what that means…

I’M MAKING A FANCY DRESS

i’ve put all of my usual practical sewing oh hold (except for one summer dress i’m finishing up). i really do love the practical sewing i usually do, but i’ll gladly shelve it all for something more exciting! i agonized for a few days as to what kind of dress i should make—silk bias cut? over the top chiffon gathers? short? floor-length? too many options! i had a few silhouettes in mind when i headed out to the fabric store the other day and decided to go with something structured. then last night i browsed mccalls patterns and this grabbed me immediately:

gorgeous! it will work perfectly with my fabrics and should keep me plenty comfortable. plus fitting shouldn’t be too much of a hassle (famous last words…).

so here are the fabrics i’ve chosen…

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this is a poly/rayon burnout that will overlay a navy cotton sateen. then the dress will be fully lined in navy bemberg. since my overlay fabric has a nice sheen to it i nixed the idea of splurging on silks or compromising with poly satin. when confronted with $8/yd vs. $40/yd… well ya’ll know me too well. plus i could buy extra fabric for insurance without breaking the bank.

here you can see the burnout pattern

here you can see the burnout pattern

i’ll be doing the full skirt, and as for bodice… perhaps both. i haven’t pulled out the pattern pieces yet, but i think i’ll make the strap-y bodice from the sateen, then overlay the top portion with my burnout using the v-neck fuller coverage pattern pieces (minus any of the lace trim). i’ll have to sort out how that’ll work, but i think the idea has promise.

got me some sparkly shoes for my fancy dinner in a couple wks. now i need to remember how to walk in heels…

A post shared by lisa g. (@lisagaskamp) on

i already bought some sparkly new shoes, the only missing piece is a clutch of some sort… that’ll probably be a last minute detail.

guys, i am totes excited for our trip because… i’ll have plenty of time to work in some NYC fabric shopping! it’s kinda sad that we only live 3 hours away, and yet this will be my first real visit. of course i’ll visit the venerable mood fabrics, but what other shops should be on my must visit list? do tell!

—lisa g.

lane raglan v.3

spring weather around these parts is a bit of a mixed bag. eighty-five one day, 50ºF the next. i made this light sweatshirt-type shirt for those days when i need a warmer layer, but still want to look like spring. again, this is the lane raglan by hey june (clearly, i endorse this pattern!), and the fabric is a cotton interlock from girl charlee. this fabric is crazy soft and comfy, i love it so much!

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i was a little over confident in how much i could fit onto one yard of fabric and nearly didn’t get to make this top! i had to abandon print matching the sleeves to the main body pieces, and i was still short about 1″ in width. i briefly threw in the towel, then got it back out to try again. i arranged it so that only a small part at the underarm of one sleeve was hanging off the fabric. i cut it out, then went back and pieced a scrap on and finished cutting the sleeve.

i always win at fabric cutting.

i used rib knit from joann fabrics as the neck and sleeve/hem bands since interlock doesn’t have the recovery needed for the job. plus the ribbing gives it a more “authentic” sweatshirt vibe. i probably could have stretched the neck band tighter since it’s slightly wavy, but it doesn’t particularly bother me.

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for this version i shortened the hemline by 2″. it works a little better for layering with the shorter length, and, as it turns out, i wouldn’t have had enough fabric anyways. in case you were wondering, these are my jalie jeans that i made a few months ago. i honestly didn’t anticipate them becoming my go to jeans, but they are! my GAP jeans just feel so wrong now, i never reach for them. it’s definitely time for a second pair, but i suspect that won’t happen until fall. or sooner… who knows!

—lisa g.

knit shift dress | renfrew meets mccalls 6559 meets laurel

if me made may teaches me anything, it’s that my sewing is seriously out of sync with my blogging. and instagram is just an enabler since my makes are almost always seen there first. but, i have a several project backlog of photographed makes, so there does stand the chance that i’ll actually get them on ye olde blog soon-ish.

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a couple weeks ago i had a rare evening out with a group of moms from my daughter’s kindergarten class. naturally i needed to make something new for the occasion… you know how it is. but i should back up… i’ve been itching to add some flowy knit maxi skirts to my wardrobe, and i had a 2 yard piece of black cotton/lycra and thought that would be perfect. i drafted out a 1/4 circle skirt, but alas i was about 1/2 a yard short. i decided to try anyways and make an a-line maxi. chalked it out on my fabric, cut it out, sewed up the side seams and… well it was okay, but it just didn’t totally feel right. it was too fitted from waist to hip and would probably end up not worn very often.

awkward arm pose...

awkward arm pose…

i was bummed, but then i remembered the dinner outing and thought maybe i could get a shift dress even if i had to piece it together. well turns out that a failed maxi skirt is the exact amount of fabric required for a shift dress—no piecing necessary! i cut sleeves and binding from my remaining fabric (which i still had a good chunk of) and had a new dress hours later.

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so let’s talk about my pattern. you may recall last december that i made a shift dress for christmas out of a heavy sweater knit. i wore that dress a lot, so i knew i’d be making it again. i had hacked it by combining my sewaholic renfrew for the top with mccalls 6559 for the bottom. for this dress, i also narrowed the skirt hem, using my colette patterns laurel as a guide. (side note: why didn’t i just use my laurel—minus darts—for this dress? i had intended to, actually, but i pulled out my renfrew for comparison and i was afraid it would take some serious tweaking to get right. with my renfrew/shift previously hacked, the bulk of the work was already done.) basically all i did was line up the waist marking on the mccalls pattern with where my waist hits on the renfrew. line those two up and you’re ready to go! okay, mostly.

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one thing that has bugged me on my chevron dress is some excess fabric in the back, and little bit of pulling on the front causing the back to look like it’s sagging. to fix all that, i retraced, narrowing the back piece in quite a bit at the waist. then to address the pulling at the front i added in some bust room by slashing at the bust line and adding 3/8″. this excess i simply eased in when i sewed the side seams, keeping the excess concentrated from the armhole to just under the bust. i would tell you that adding in the extra room was my brilliant idea, but that’s how the mccalls pattern is drafted so i figured it was legit. just note that if you have a striped fabric, start your stripe matching under the bust, not at the armhole!

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i finished the neckline with a binding facing, rather than a neck band for a nice clean look. i serged a strip of fabric to the front, then turned it to the inside and top stitched with my cover hem. oh yeah… i bought a cover hem (!!!). we’re just getting acquainted, so i’ll hopefully post more on that later!

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and that’s about it! i can see this dress covering all the bases from a casual day dress to an accessorized date night dress for almost any season. versatility at it’s finest!

—lisa g.